How to build an eco-friendly future in 14 days
Ani and Ala launched their own Eco-Future initiative as part of the green living challenge by UNICEF, Austrian Development Agency, and Ministry of Environment of Armenia.
Ani and Ala are friends from Charentsavan who launched their own initiative, entitled Eco-Future, in the framework of the green living challenge announced by UNICEF, Austrian Development Agency, and Ministry of Environment in Armenia.
The two friends challenged each other for 14 days and started sorting waste at home from scratch. They document this whole process and shared it through Instagram posts and stories. After 14 days, the girls told us what difficulties they encountered, what they have learned and managed to achieve during this period, as well as shared their ideas for green living.
“Who else, if not us?”
Ala: You walk around the city and see trash on the sidewalk just a few metres away from the trashcan. People need to change their attitude towards the environment. And, I think, it starts from young people. Because who else can do that, if not us? We wanted to sort waste but didn't know where to start from. So, we decided to challenge each other and document that process and talk about why it is important and how to do that. In our posts and videos, we talked about what this whole process has meant for us and our futures.
Ani: We both had the same idea and were thinking of doing something like this one day. This initiative was an excellent opportunity to implement our ideas and get support. We learned a lot during this process, from how to sort waste properly to how to engage and build a network of like-minded people. We also learned how to take good photos and started using social networks for a good purpose.
“Trends will pass, but there is only one Earth.”
Ala: I often see children of my age breaking a tree branch or ripping up flowers, it makes me cringe every time. It is not easy to explain to people what that kind of behavior leads to.
Ani: Every day, we hear about the temperature rising everywhere; the ozone layer being destroyed. Large volumes of waste are a major contributing factor. We hear that more trees are being cut down instead of planting. This is very disappointing.
Ala: Our friends in high school were not really interested in this topic before. Now, after they saw our posts, many of them became curious and started asking questions. Before we started this initiative, I was held back by my fears, I was afraid that people would not take it seriously, but now I know that I didn’t have to worry.
Ani: We got both good and bad comments. We got comments like “it’s a trendy topic, and that’s why you did it”. This was the most painful for me to hear. I do not understand what a “trend” has to do with what we do. Trends will pass, but there is only one Earth. There are many indifferent people, but we do not despair. When people learned that we were doing our project with UNICEF, they took us more seriously and realised that our opinions matter.
“The solution has to start from people because people are the cause to this problem.”
Ala's father is an organic farmer. Their family tries to lead an eco-friendly life - they sort waste, buy recycled items and use organic food. Ani's family is learning how to live in an eco-friendly way thanks to her efforts. They have already learned a lot from Ani and are trying to change their daily habits to use eco-bags and reduce food waste. The girls think that people should unite to solve environmental problems and start with small steps.
Ala: We are trying to educate ourselves to explain better what we are doing and why it’s important. There's a powerful tool in the hands of our generation – digital technologies. Our word spreads quickly through the Internet and has the potential to go viral. The important thing is to keep communicating. We need to spread awareness on how things should be done. After all, the solution has to start from people because we are the cause to this problem.
Ala: The number of people on the Earth has grown rapidly, and our demands have increased dramatically too. The volume of trash that we produce is already out of control. The fact that we have started sorting waste may be considered a tiny step, but these small steps help us to find solutions.
The mission of the girls’ “Eco-Future” initiative is to motivate other people. The girls know that they will change minds in their community. They have already identified like-minded people in their own community who have shared their own ideas. The girls have also written and delivered a letter to their municipality, demanding the installation of waste sorting bins for the community.
Ani: We now know how to sort waste in order to decrease the amount of trash that is dumped. The next step is to send it for recycling, but how? There are 24 waste processing companies in Armenia but not one waste sorting bin in our community. It’s time to change this!
Ala: Our community does not yet have real access to waste recycling. As residents of this community, we decided that we have the right to apply to the municipality and demand that a waste collection point is built in Charentsavan. We have already sent our appeal. Let's see what the reaction will be.